LAS VEGAS – Saddle bronc rider Wyatt Casper has been looking for his opportunity to show off.
He got it during a special Wednesday morning performance of the National Finals Rodeo, riding Legacy Pro Rodeo’s Jitter Bug for 85 points, good enough for fifth in the sixth go-round, worth just shy of $8,000.
“That horse gives you every opportunity to spur every jump and doesn’t have a trick to her,” said Casper of Miami, Texas. “It’s one of those rounds where you just get to let loose and have some fun.”
He’s having a good time, but placing higher would give the Oklahoma Panhandle-raised cowboy a little better feeling. Through six rounds, he’s placed three times and earned $34,763 – $10,000 of that came as a bonus for being an NFR qualifier.
Meanwhile, go-round winners are earning nearly $31,000 per night. The difference between his ride and the four men who earned more money in the morning session? While his horse was straight down the arena, the other four had mounts that offered a few more tricks. Scores are based on a 100-point scale, with half coming from how well the horse bucks and half from how well the cowboy rides in rhythm the bucking motion.
“You can dang sure separate those horses that are a little more showy than the ones that don’t have anything to them,” Casper said. “I knew I’d be pretty close to getting a check. You can do that in most of these pens. You can pick out who’s got the strongest horse and who’s got the bottom of the pen. Even though it’s the NFR, there’s still a top and bottom to those pens.”
The morning performance came because the opening night of the NFR was canceled after the deadly shooting last week on the UNLV campus. Contestants competed twice. There were two performances Wednesday to allow for the cowboys and cowgirls to still be part of all 10 rounds.
It seems like a lot to get on two broncs in one day, but it’s just a different feel because of the magnitude of the NFR. During the summer run, contestants will make multiple rides or runs in the same day.
“Usually over the Fourth of July, we try to enter Red Lodge, Montana; Cody, Wyoming; and Livingston, Montana, in the same day,” he said. “You’re also driving pretty fast to get to all those rodeos, and that’s three in a day. That’s a full day, so it’s nice to have a break between the two rounds here.”